The Turin Erotic Papyrus

Found at Deir el Medine, this New Kingdom papyrus with its strange mixture of erotic scenes and animal satire has caused people to speculate as to what it is about. The satires seem to be straight forward: animals are engaged in human activities which range from playing the harp to waging war, including a lotus crowned cat making love to a goose. These kinds of depictions can be found occasionally and seem to have amused the ancient Egyptians As might be expected it is the sex part which divides opinions: is it pornography, a satire on the sexual desires of elderly men, a sex manual or has it religious significance depicting fertility rites? The oversized phallus appears often in reliefs or statues of fertility gods. But otherwise these pictures seem to have little in common with the divine. Interpreting it as a ribald satire seems most appropriate, in tune with the opening animal scenes: Somewhat disheveled elderly men lusting after pretty young women is, depending on your point of view, irritating, pathetic or funny. In his imagination, where his erections are enormous and coital positions are varied and exciting, a man's performance is generally more remarkable than it is in reality, where the exhausted lover is being carried off - his limp member decorated by a lotus flower belonging to the girl supporting his buttocks, or where the act may be over before the woman perched on her stool has had time to enjoy herself.

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